Since his time playing the heartthrob Bram in Love, Simon, Keiynan Lonsdale has proved himself a luminary for queerness and gender fluidity. The movie itself was groundbreaking—as the first major studio romantic comedy to feature a gay lead, the high school movie made waves in Hollywood. But Keiynan’s emergence as an energetic voice for the LGBTQ community is an added bonus.
Lonsdale understands the gravity behind Love, Simon, and what it meant for queer representation in media. In an interview with Gay Times, he said, “We knew it was going to be really important to people.” The audience response has been widespread and incredible for him to witness.
“It’s been super beautiful,” he gushed. “It’s such a cool thing to have such genuine responses and heartfelt messages from people. It cements the fact that art can help change the world for the better. It’s really inspiring to me.”
Back in June, the out bisexual actor accepted the MTV Movie Award for Best Kiss—the award show’s most exciting trophy—and the very first time the popcorn statue went to a gay kiss. He sported a floor-length sequin coat, a skirt, and face jewels, and told the audience, “I just want to say to every kid, if you can live your dreams and wear dresses…”
It’s moments like this, and the release of a movie like Love, Simon that help queer youth feel more comfortable in their skin, and can coax more people out of the closet. When asked if the rom-com made a positive impact on LGBTQ youth, Lonsdale insisted, “Totally, and then the more people who come out, the more it shows other people who are struggling with it that, ‘Okay, maybe this isn’t such a scary thing. Maybe we can live authentically.’”
According to the 26-year old, people were even coming out to their loved ones immediately after viewing the movie. “It was an amazing surprise to see the amount of people who were actually taking that step so quickly. Some people even came out to their friends and family in the cinema after watching. It’s just so beautifully insane and wonderful.”
The actor and musician gets messages every day from fans echoing this sentiment, that both he and the film have made them feel a little less alone. For Keiynan, it’s emotional to read such missives. The inevitable impact of this movie is why the Australian took on the role. “I knew that this movie needed to be made, and that I’d be extremely lucky to be a part of it,” he said.
“I also knew that whoever got the role, it was going to be the right person and as long as it got made correctly… I knew with Greg Berlanti directing it, I was super hopeful that it was going to be told with love – and it was.”
The movie has inspired him to seek more queer roles, too, and he hopes that more movie studios will continue to tell queer stories in new and exciting ways. For Keiynan, who has played Kid Flash in The CW’s The Flash, it’s high time to see a queer superhero on-screen. When asked if Hollywood was ready for a queer superhero, he said, “Oh yeah, one hundred percent. That’s why Love, Simon was important because you got not just a queer character, but you got them as a lead in a major movie.”
Lonsdale added, “So it’s important that when we are… just when you have Superman and Batman and all these people that kids look up to and think, ‘Wow, you’re perfect and amazing and a superhero,’ we need to see that very, very clearly for a queer character on the big screen. Then LGBTQ can know that yeah, you as well, just as these other people, are also larger than life. You can be magical, you can be a superhero.”
As for what’s next, Keiynan’s currently writing an album. He released a single “Kiss The Boy” earlier this year, and hopes to create more music. He’s also open to a Love, Simon sequel, since the author of the book, Becky Albertalli, released a follow-up novel called Leah On The Offbeat. However, he insists that the original movie was “perfectly tied together.”
Love, Simon is now available for digital download.